As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the new titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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The devout Salieri has dedicated his life to becoming a great composer, only to be upstaged by the young and rebellious Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — who immediately becomes his great rival. Based on Peter Shaffer’s play, Amadeus may play fast and loose with the historical facts of Mozart’s life, but it also delivers a fascinating story about art, faith, and artistic struggles. Since its release 1984, when it received numerous accolades and awards (including “Best Picture” and “Best Director” at the Oscars), Amadeus has come to be recognized as one of the greatest movies of all time.
The premise — actors from a classic sci-fi TV series are kidnapped by aliens who believe the show to be real — makes it sound like Galaxy Quest does nothing but poke fun at all things Star Trek. Which it does, and brilliantly so, but its jokes are coming from a place of love. As a result, it’s the best kind of parody, one that recognizes the inherent silliness of Star Trek while also capturing what makes Star Trek so great in the first place. By Grabthar’s hammer, indeed.
Directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg, The Goonies is about as good as a classic kids adventure film can get. When a group of social misfits on the verge of being kicked out of their homes discover a pirate treasure map, they see it as the perfect solution to their problems — if they can survive the elaborate booby traps and vicious criminals on their tail.
One of the all-time great romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally follows its titular couple over the course of several years as they grow up, get careers, fall in and out of love, and make terrible mistakes. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan give classic performances as the two leads, a pair of unlikely friends in a “will they or won’t they” relationship. The film also stars Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, and was written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner.
This good-natured adaptation of the world’s most famous role-playing game is clearly a labor of love for its filmmakers, and in its best moments, truly does capture how fun — and frustrating — an actual D&D session can be (read my review). Starring Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez, the movie follows a group of thieves who steal a relic that could destroy the world, and must use their wits and various talents to prevent it from being used. The movie also stars Regé-Jean Page, Hugh Grant, and Bradley Cooper in a humorous cameo.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in August 2023.
It’s the final ride for Star-Lord, Nebula, Rocket, and the rest of the Guardians. This time around, they must battle the forces of the High Evolutionary, a mad scientist driven to create the perfect species no matter how many lives and planets it takes, in order to save Rocket’s life. The film gets pretty grim in places, as it delves into Rocket’s trouble past — some of its scenes are among the MCU’s darkest — and the ending is appropriately bittersweet (read my review). And of course, it has a pretty solid soundtrack.
After making her live-action debut in The Mandalorian’s second season, fan favorite Ahsoka Tano gets her own series. Set after the events of Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka finds the Togruta Jedi (played by Rosario Dawson) teaming up with several characters from Star Wars Rebels (e.g., Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren) to confront a new threat to the galaxy after the defeat and fall of the Empire. Ahsoka also stars Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Ray Stevenson as a former Jedi-turned-Sith master, and Lars Mikkelsen as Grand Admiral Thrawn, a high-ranking Imperial officer who has proved to be another fan favorite.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in August 2023.
Scientists figure out a way to clone extinct dinosaurs, and the first thing they do? Why, create an amusement park on a remote island, of course. What can go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, and it’s up to some paleontologists and Jeff Goldblum’s chaos mathematician to find a way to survive when life, uh, finds a way. Jurassic Park is a summer blockbuster in the best way possible.
Ong Bak thrilled and delighted martial arts fans when it was released back in 2003. Starring Tony Jaa as a young man from the country who travels to the big city of Bangkok in search of his village’s sacred Buddha statue, Ong Bak is filled with mind-blowing action scenes. Jaa dispatches the bad guys with a flurry of feet, fists, knees, and elbows — sometimes even while on fire — and his acrobatic stunts recall classic Jackie Chan (read my review).
Adapted from his own YouTube short, Kyle Edward Ball’s Skinamarink was one of 2022’s most contentious horror movies. Many critics praised its experimental, oblique approach to telling the story of two young children trapped in a constantly changing house. Others found it slow-moving, boring, even pretentious.
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in August 2023.
Based on the 1978 children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable family flick about a scientist who creates a machine capable of creating all manner of food-oriented weather. Yeah, it’s a silly premise, but the film’s visual cleverness and engaging storyline makes it far more than its title might suggest.
Featuring cinema’s most infamous wood chipper scene, the Coen Brothers’ Fargo is yet another twisted moral tale told with a sense of humor as black as the film’s wintry setting is white. When a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) contracts with a couple of goons to hold his wife for ransom, he sets in a motion a twisted tragicomedy of errors that pulls in one of the Coens’ noblest and purest heroes, police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).
Set during the ’50s, The Iron Giant blends classic sci-fi and Cold War-era paranoia into a charming coming-of-age story between a boy and a gigantic robot. I unashamedly wept the first time I saw the film’s heart-wrenching finale, and I still get chills whenever I think of the word “Superman.” The film did poorly during its initial release due to the studio’s poor promotion, but the ensuing years have been very kind to its legacy, and for good reason: it’s a classic in every sense of the word.
Lieutenant Frank Drebin is a goofball and clutz. But he’s also the best man to protect Queen Elizabeth II from an assassination attempt, which he’ll do with site gags, pratfalls, and visual puns aplenty. Based on the Police Squad! series from 1982, The Naked Gun is widely considered one of the greatest movie comedies of all time.
Directed by John Frankenheimer, Ronin follows a group of ex-government agents who’ve been hired to pull off a mysterious job for a mysterious benefactor. Soon enough, loyalties begin shifting and it becomes increasingly difficult to know who can be trusted. The film’s all-star cast includes Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Sean Bean, and Jonathan Pryce, and the film won widespread acclaim for its thrilling car chase sequences.
I still remember the first time I saw Spaceballs. I was in junior high at the time, and I had no idea what the movie was, but the moment I saw the “We brake for nobody” bumper sticker on Spaceball One, I knew my life would never be the same. One of the most quotable movies of all time — e.g., “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.” — Spaceballs is a true comedy classic.
Here’s everything arriving on Max in August 2023.
“It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child.” Thus begins The Jerk, the first feature film starring role for Steve Martin, and one of his most iconic performances. The film is basically a showpiece for Martin’s absurd form of comedy, as he plays a lovable — and rhythm-less — loser who strikes it rich with a silly invention, and experiences all kinds of pitfalls with his newfound wealth.
Sofia Coppola’s acclaimed 2003 film stars Bill Murray as a washed up actor who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young college graduate played by Scarlett Johansson while they’re both in Tokyo. In addition to its gorgeous cinematography and beautiful Japanese locales, the film has an incredible soundtrack that includes music from Air, Squarepusher, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields.
A modern adaptation of Michael Bond’s stories about a marmalade-loving bear who travels from “darkest Peru” to live with the Brown family in England might seem a bit odd. But the truth is, Paddington is an absolute delight of movie. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, and Ben Whishaw as Paddington’s voice, it’s full of good-natured, big-hearted fun as the lovable bear gets into all sorts of adventures while trying to avoid capture by an unhinged taxidermist (Nicole Kidman). The film received widespread critical acclaim, winning “Best Feature” at the British Academy Children’s Awards.
Eiichiro Oda’s long-running One Piece is widely considered one of the greatest manga series of all time, and it’s inspired a veritable media franchise (e.g., anime, video games). Now Netflix is producing a live-action adaptation that chronicles the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a wannabe pirate with bizarre abilities who begins assembling a crew in his quest to be the world’s greatest pirate. Netflix hasn’t had the best of luck with similar adaptations (e.g., Cowboy Bebop), but maybe they’ll do right by the Straw Hat Pirates.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in August 2023.